Friday, June 20, 2014

Statement of Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles at the High-Level Press Conference in Oslo

From the Website of OPPAP

Statement of Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles at the High-Level Press Conference in Oslo

Press Statement for the High-Level Press Conference
By Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process – Philippines
18 June 2014 – Oslo

On March 27, 2014, the Philippine government signed a historic agreement with the largest secessionist group in our country, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF.
The international community played an indispensable role in that agreement.
Responding to the voices of peace among the Filipino people and the determination of the Philippine government to heed those voices—the world came to our aid in many ways—through political support, development programs, technical assistance and, most of all,  nurturing the trust and confidence that drove both sides to cross the rubicon and forge an enduring peace.
If there is a single idea pervading my thoughts at this moment, it is that peace knows no borders, no political lines, no ethnic demarcations.  It has been my privilege as a peace worker to witness men and women of all origins and creeds and coming from distant places, gather in one place to stop a conflict, get the parties to the negotiating table and nurture peace talks to fruition.
In many parts of the world, nameless, faceless guardians of peace engage in the most formidable duties in behalf of humanity—many facing supreme sacrifices, at times failure or defeat, but never losing faith in the argument that peace is possible if we try hard enough.
The “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” that we have entered into with the MILF draws from the experience of our nation and people stretching almost half a century into the past.
Our people have endured terror, death and displacement of the most desolate kind.
The Philippine government signed a peace agreement in 1996 that turned out to be a failed experiment – with peace remaining elusive and beyond our grasp.   Our efforts to put the process back on track were met with resistance, setbacks, and sabotage as the secessionist movement was broken into two armed groups.
It was only under President Aquino when, three years ago, he himself chose to break the impasse by meeting personally with the leader of the MILF, Kagi Al Haj Murad, who joins the Oslo Forum for the first time this year.  They agreed to move forward, and, since then, both sides have persisted at the peace table, determined to craft an agreement that would be convergent and inclusive of all, especially of the communities that have suffered most from the long war.
Before the year ends, our legislators have committed to pass a law that will bring about much needed political and socio-economic reforms under a new regional government, the “Bangsamoro.”
This will be followed by a plebiscite in the areas under the scope of the law next year, ensuing a brief transition period until  regional elections are held  in May, 2016.
As we move to achieve these political milestones, the parties have also began to put in place a comprehensive and sustainable normalization process that will, through a multi-track approach, ensure that the weapons and the forces of the MILF are put beyond use  and communities are transformed from conflict and despair to hope, productivity, and a chance at new beginnings.
We dare to say it is a democratic process bursting into full bloom.
And we take great pride that this process has been led and stewarded by Filipino women in unprecedented numbers, including the first woman in the world to sign such an agreement in the role of chief negotiator.
The role of the international community in encouraging us through a long and difficult peace process cannot be over emphasized. Let me pause and address our gratitude to the government and people of Norway – thank you for being our faithful partner through your participation in the International Monitoring Team as well as accepting the invitation of the parties to serve as a member of the Independent Decommissioning Body for our Bangsamoro peace process.  Thank-you also for your continued willingness  to serve as facilitator for peace talks between government and the communist insurgent forces.
For peace to have a fighting chance, we need to build sturdy institutions to support it, at the global, regional, and national levels, institutions that are represented at the Oslo Forum.
Dialogues for peace are a necessity, not a luxury – and its agenda must be developed through a bottom-up approach where those with the most hurt and hunger will have the best chance to obtain justice and human security.
Thank you.

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